Elias Says: October 25, 2017

Kershaw stars in Game 1 win at Dodger Stadium

Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 Astros batters and allowed just one run (Alex Bregman homer) as the Dodgers took Game 1 of the World Series, 3-1. Kershaw’s 11 strikeouts are tied for the second most in a World Series game over the last 40 years. John Smoltz had 11 strikeouts in a Game 4 loss in the 1999 World Series at Yankee Stadium, Orlando Hernandez struck out 12 Mets batters in a Game 3 loss at Shea Stadium in the 2000 Subway Series, and Randy Johnson had 11 strikeouts for the Diamondbacks in a complete-game shutout win over the Yankees in Game 2 in 2001.

Kershaw has tied an MLB record with seven home runs allowed in the 2017 postseason. Five previous pitchers allowed seven in a single postseason: Eric Show of the 1984 Padres, the Giants’ Scott Garrelts in 1989, Andy Pettitte for the 1996 Yankees, Josh Beckett of the 2008 Red Sox, and the Phillies’ Cole Hamels in 2009.

Taylor is fourth player with leadoff home run in Game 1 of the World Series

Chris Taylor wasted no time in Game 1, leading off the bottom of the first inning with a home run on the first pitch thrown by Dallas Keuchel. Taylor is the fourth player to hit a leadoff homer in Game 1 of the World Series, joining the Orioles’ Don Buford in 1969 (off the Mets’ Tom Seaver), Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox in 2007 (off the Rockies’ Jeff Francis), and the Royals’ Alcides Escobar in 2015 (off Matt Harvey of the Mets). The three prior instances also came in the bottom of the first inning.

Entering Tuesday night, Keuchel had allowed a home run to the first batter he faced in a game just once (regular season or postseason). That was back in his rookie season, on July 26, 2012 against the Pirates’ Starling Marte at Minute Maid Park, in his sixth start in the majors. That homer also came on Keuchel’s first pitch of the game.

Top two in the order provide the damage

The first two hitters in the Dodgers’ batting order, Chris Taylor and Justin Turner, each homered in their Game 1 victory. Turner hit what proved to be the game-winning blast, a two-run shot off Dallas Keuchel in the sixth inning. That was the fourth World Series game in which a team’s top two hitters in the batting order each homered. Don Buford and Merv Rettenmund did so for the Orioles in Game 1 of the 1971 World Series against the Pirates. In Game 4 of the 1991 World Series, Lonnie Smith and Terry Pendleton accomplished this feat for the Braves versus the Twins. And in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series, Curtis Granderson and David Wright did this against the Royals.

Astros lose each of first five World Series games

The Astros have lost each of the first five World Series games that the franchise has played, with the team’s only previous trip to the World Series being a four-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox in 2005. Only one other team lost each of its first five games in the Fall Classic: Detroit was swept in the 1907 World Series by the Cubs after Game 1 was played to a tie, and then the Tigers lost the first two games of the 1908 World Series, also to the Cubs. Detroit lost that series in five games.

Astros fail to get on the board early

The Astros did not score in any of the first three innings in Game 1, and only one player reached base in those innings for Houston (Josh Reddick single in the third). The Astros have not scored a run in the first three innings in any of their last eight postseason games. That is the longest such streak within one postseason in major-league history. Two teams had seven-game streaks of this type; the Mets did it in 1986 (spanning the NLCS and WS) as did the Angels in 2009 (ALDS and ALCS).

Fastest World Series game since 1992

The Astros and Dodgers made quick work of Game 1, with a time of game of two hours and 28 minutes. That was the shortest World Series game since Game 4 of the 1992 World Series between the Braves and Blue Jays in Toronto (2:21). Jimmy Key allowed just one run over 7⅔ innings for the Jays, and catcher Pat Borders put the team ahead for good with a third-inning solo home run off Tom Glavine.

Irving and company coast by Knicks

Kyrie Irving had 20 points and dished out a team-high seven assists in the Celtics’ rout of the Knicks. Over his first four games with Boston, Irving has totaled 80 points and 24 assists. Only four other players had at least 80 points over their first four games with the Celtics: Bailey Howell (84 points in 1966), Kevin Garnett (95 in 2007), Ray Allen (86 in 2007), and Isaiah Thomas (89 in 2015). Two of those four players had at least 20 assists over those four games: Garnett and Thomas, each with 24.

James has big first half in comeback win

LeBron James scored 23 first-half points in the Cavaliers’ comeback win over the Bulls on Tuesday night. That tied the most first-half points for James over the last three seasons (since 2015-16 season). He scored 23 in the opening half on November 17, 2015 at Detroit and also did so on December 31, 2016 at Charlotte.

The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 14 points to the Bulls. Entering Tuesday, they had lost each of their last 23 regular-season games against Chicago in which they fell behind by at least 10 points. However, Cleveland did have two playoff wins of this type against the Bulls during this span, in Games 4 and 5 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Clippers off to another hot start

Blake Griffin led all players with 22 points as the Clippers improved to 3-0 on the season, in a 102-84 win over the Jazz. It is the third straight season Los Angeles has won each of its first three games (4-0 start in 2015-16, 3-0 last season). Over the last 20 years, the only other team to start 3-0 in three straight seasons was the Hornets from the 2006-07 season to 2008-09.

Gordon dominates in Magic win

Aaron Gordon, who turned 22 years old on September 16, scored a career-high 41 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Magic’s 125-121 victory over the Nets on Tuesday. Only two other players had at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in a game at 22 years old or younger over the last six seasons (since 2012-13): Anthony Davis (seven such games) and Karl-Anthony Towns (three such games).

Gordon is the fifth Magic player (at any age) with a 40-point/10-rebound regular-season game, joining Shaquille O'Neal (20 such games), Tracy McGrady (10), Dwight Howard (four), and Nikola Vucevic (one).

Pacers on fire in blowout win

The Pacers made 56 of their 84 field goal attempts (66.7%) on Tuesday night, in their 130-107 win over the Timberwolves at the Target Center. That is the highest field goal percentage in a game for any team since the T’Wolves made 68.4 percent of their attempts in a win over the Nets on March 5, 2016, in the same arena. Indiana had never before made such a high percentage of its shots in an NBA game, regular season or playoffs.

Cousins has big game, but not quite enough for the Pelicans

DeMarcus Cousins led all players with 39 points in the Pelicans’ loss to the Blazers. Cousins has scored 207 points over his last six games versus Portland, his most points scored against any team over a six-game span. His previous high was 199 points, against both the Blazers and Nuggets.

Point streaks continue for dynamic duo

Steven Stamkos (two assists) and Nikita Kucherov (one goal) each extended their season-opening point streaks to ten games in Tampa Bay’s 5–1 win at Carolina. Stamkos and Kucherov are the first pair of teammates to both produce at least one point in each of their team’s first ten games of a season since 1992–93. That season, the Penguins had three players begin the campaign with double-digit point streaks (Kevin Stevens 13, Mario Lemieux 12, Ron Francis 12), and the Bruins (Joe Juneau 14, Dmitri Kvartalnov 14) and Sabres (Dave Andreycuk 17, Pat LaFontaine 11) had two.

Early success for the Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights won their fourth consecutive game Tuesday night, a 4-2 affair over the Blackhawks. Vegas, which has played eight games, has won four games in a row for the first time faster than every other NHL franchise except for Detroit, which won its third-through-sixth games of its inaugural 1926-27 season.

Tavares hat trick is a treat

John Tavares scored three goals to lead the Islanders to a 5–3 win over the Coyotes at Barclays Center. It was Tavares’ first hat trick this season and seventh hat trick since he entered the NHL after the Islanders selected him with the first overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. Tavares is now tied with Pat LaFontaine for the fourth-most hat tricks in Islanders history, though the franchise leader, Mike Bossy, had more hat tricks (39) than the next four players combined (38): Bryan Trottier (16), Pierre Turgeon (8), LaFontaine (7) and Tavares (7).

Overtime is Kessel’s time

Phil Kessel’s goal in the first minute of overtime gave the Penguins a 2–1 victory over the Oilers in Pittsburgh. It was the sixth regular-season overtime in Kessel’s NHL career, which ties the Madison, Wisconsin native with Alex Galchenyuk for fifth most among active U.S.-born players. (Galchenyuk was born in Milwaukee.) The American players ahead of Kessel and Galchenyuk on the active leaders list are Dustin Byfuglien (8), Max Pacioretty (8), Zach Parise (8) and Kyle Okposo (7).

Weber nets two as Canadiens come out on top

Shea Weber scored two goals as the Canadiens ended their seven-game winless streak with a 5–1 victory over the Senators in Montreal. It was Weber’s first two-goal game for the Canadiens and the 16th multiple-goal game of his NHL career, which ranks him second to Mike Green (18) in multi-goal games among active NHL defensemen.

Ducks have offensive surge

The Ducks scored only 12 goals in their first six games this season but they have matched that goal total over the two games they have played since then, 6–2 wins against the Canadiens in Anaheim last Friday and against the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday. This is only the fourth time in the Ducks’ 24 years in the NHL that they have scored at least six goals in each of two consecutive regular-season games, and it is the first time they have done so since April 2–4, 2006 (6–2 vs. Canucks, 6–2 vs. Kings).

Nilsson with second shutout in third game with the Canucks

Anders Nilsson, acquired as a free agent by Vancouver in July, recorded his second shutout for the Canucks Tuesday night in Minnesota in just his third game with the team. It is by far the quickest any Vancouver goaltender has recorded two shutouts with the club, eclipsing the mark of 12 games shared by Arturs Irbe and Eddie Lack.

Late flurry gives the Flames the win

The Flames were down 2-0 to the Predators with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third period on Tuesday night. Calgary evened the score with goals by Matthew Tkachuk (at 10:35) and Micheal Ferland (12:55). The Flames, who eventually won the game in a shootout, are the second team this season to win a game despite trailing by at least two goals at the halfway point of the third period. Toronto beat Chicago, 4-3, in overtime despite trailing by two goals late on October 9. Calgary had not won a game like that since December 22, 2014. The Flames trailed, 3-1, with less than three minutes remaining in the third period in that game before Johnny Gaudreau netted two goals in 73 seconds and Mark Giordano pocketed the game-winner in overtime.

Kempe is clutch

Rookie Adrian Kempe scored the tying goal for the Kings with 1:46 remaining in the third period and then scored one of the two goals in the shootout which earned L.A. a 3–2 win at Ottawa. Kempe is the first Kings rookie to score a tying goal in the final two minutes of the third period since March 19, 2009, when Drew Doughty notched a tying goal with 1:36 left in regulation time in a game at Boston. The Kings won that game in overtime, 3–2.

Nieto nets three

Matt Nieto, who entered the night with 35 NHL goals on his resume, recorded the first hat trick of his career on Tuesday night in Colorado’s 5-3 win over the Stars. Nieto is the 10th different player this season to score at least three goals in a game. The only one of those players who had fewer career goals than Nieto entering his hat trick game is Kings’ rookie Adrian Kempe, who scored the third, fourth and fifth goals of his career against Montreal last Wednesday.

Lehner stops them all

Robin Lehner posted his first shutout of the season with a 32-save 1–0 win against the Red Wings in Buffalo. It was the second 1–0 shutout of Lehner’s career – his first NHL clean sheet was a 1–0 win for Ottawa at Boston on Feb. 28, 2012 – and the first 1–0 shutout by a Sabres goaltender since Dec. 9, 2014, when Jhonas Enroth blanked the Kings in Buffalo.